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Pay homage to those who died in protecting, serving

Police officers in Massachusetts have been running and walking a 425-mile foot beat this week to honor Officer Enmanuel “Manny” Familia, who drowned last year attempting to rescue a drowning teenager last June.

The officers honoring Familia are headed to Washington, D.C., where the journey will end at the National Law Enforcement Memorial, where Familia’s name was recently inscribed.

Officers will attend National Police Week and Peace Officers Memorial Day on Sunday, May 15 to honor Familia and other officers who have died in the line of duty.

As with Familia’s story, that line of duty the overwhelming majority of police officers across this nation toe with courage, fidelity and commitment is not limited to violent confrontations with criminals. That duty includes so many more sacrifices and demands police officers meet every day.

When public safety threats emerge, police are always among the first responders. They pull people out of burning buildings. They rescue people from deadly situations, health crises and weather and a growing list of natural disasters. They find missing and lost children. They keep the peace, during every kind of human confrontation, imaginable and unimaginable.

They provide comfort and, when necessary get people mental and medical assistance they need during a crisis. In many cases, they provide that assistance themselves.

They participate in food drives, toy drives and countless other charitable drives and endeavors.

The charity they generously provide serving is a lesser-known part of what police do for all of us, but holding the line — being the line — between threats to the public’s safety is inherently dangerous. Police officers run toward danger. They are out there everywhere, every day, protecting us from harm, even in the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021, when officer Eugene Goodman lured a mob of rioters away from members of Congress trapped in chambers.

On March 7, 2022, the Government Accountability Office reported 114 officers were injured during the riot. In the days and weeks after the riot, five police officers who had served at the Capitol on Jan. 6 died, the New York Times reported on Jan. 5, 2022, four by suicide.

Of course there are too many officers who have died in protecting and serving in violent confrontations with criminals, but many others made the ultimate sacrifice being struck by vehicles or involved in fatal accidents and other hazardous situations.

Just as freedom isn’t free, protecting the public has a cost. Their commitment to perform all this heroism every day 24/7 comes at a cost. Sometimes the cost is their life.

That is why President John F. Kennedy in 1962 signed a proclamation designating May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week, for citizens to give remembrance and pay homage to those who gave their lives in the line of duty.

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